Sen. Franklin Drilon said that the assignment of committees is meant to please not individuals but the public. Uh-huh! Why do I suspect that Malacanang would be pleased should Sen. TG Guingona retain the chairmanship of the Blue Ribbon? Oh well, the feeling is mutual, for Guingona is one person who’s certain to go out of his way to please Malacanang.
The Blue Ribbon has oversight functions over any malfeasance and misfeasance in government. I believe that Guingona will unquestionably investigate any allegations of graft and corruption against enemies of the Aquino administration, but the administration itself? I don’t expect him to go at it with equal zest, if ever. Guingona still has to shed his image as an acolyte of Malacanang, one who’s ever ready to say “amen” to Malacañang pronouncements.
Should there be a resolution seeking an inquiry in aid of legislation into the questioned purchase of fire trucks by the Department of Interior and Local Government or into the allegations against the sister and brother-in-law of President Benigno Simeon Aquino 3rd, it’s not farfetched to expect Guingona to see no wrongdoing even before the inquiry could start. He has said time and again that the anomalies that pervaded in the previous administration aren’t possible under the new administration with its “tuwid na daan.”
With such a mindset, he’s bound to be a defender of Malacanang even as he conducts an inquiry.
Let’s rewind to the Blue Ribbon’s inquiry into the alleged corruption in the military and the plea bargain agreement between state prosecutors and retired M/Gen. Carlos Garcia, a former military comptroller. Even before he could finish the inquiry, Guingona prepared a partial report. I have never heard of any other committee submitting a partial report.
Most prepare only final reports and only after concluding their inquiry. Why the haste to prepare it even before the Blue Ribbon could terminate its hearing? Well, it was obviously done to please Malacanang.
Note that during that time, Malacanang was bent on impeaching Ombudsman Merceditas Guttierez. BS Aquino said that he expected all members of the Liberal Party to support the move against her, which was then pending at the House. Well, Guingona, a Liberal, dutifully did so with his conclusion in the partial report that she should either resign or be impeached and that she’s guilty of betrayal of public trust.
“The Ombudsman represents the single biggest stumbling block in our quest for truth and in our crusade to recover hundreds of millions of pesos in people’s money that may be lost due to the negligence and lack of prosecutorial will on her part,” he said in his partial report.
Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, the Senate President then, asked Guingona to concentrate only on alleged corruption in the military, the real subject of the inquiry, and delete all references to Gutierrez. Enrile said the Senate would be placed in an awkward position once the Senate conducts impeachment trial of Gutierrez. Guingona dismissed JPE’s advice. He said that while he has the highest respect for JPE and his wisdom, he also believed in the wisdom of the recommendation of the Blue Ribbon. Wow!
Going back to the allegations against Balsy Aquino Cruz, the president’s sister, Dr. Dante A. Ang (DAA) described them as a demolition job, saying it isn’t in her nature to solicit bribe and that no private person could possibly sway a government-to-government contract.
That piece of DAA’s should give readers a better appreciation of the kind of paper The Manila Times is and of the kind of person DAA is. Note that varied opinion on the issue saw print in the Times. I know of one newspaper that fired a columnist for not toeing its anti-GMA stand. Then there’s the paper that would not tolerate any news report that’s unfavorable to friends and even friends of friends of the papers’ big shots. Such situations never happen in our paper.
DAA was once the main drumbeater for the Senate’s ratification of the Japan-Philippine Economic Partnership Agreement. In one Senate hearing, a lady lawyer cited my news report on the disadvantages of JPEPA I had culled in a previous hearing. DAA replied that it’s his son (Klink) who’s running the paper and Klink saw it fit to print the contrary view.
Yes, Klink knew that his father was for JPEPA but this did not impel him to shut off the other side from our paper. And yes, DAA and Klink had never asked me how to treat an issue either in my news reports or in my column. Our paper may be small, but it’s one of the greatest and the noblest in the country.